Archives For mari

Cisco hosted tech reporters at its annual CES press reception last week and took us through a whirlwind of company news, vision-speak, and proof-of-concept demos. The best of the demos was an app giving users the ability not only to control TV from a mobile device, but also to share related secondary content between different screens. For example, execs showed how to bring up detailed program information or social networking content on a tablet, and then transfer that information in widget-like tiles to the television display.

On the tablet, meanwhile, the app kept a strip of video from the live program streaming at the top of the small screen, while still leaving the rest of the window open for browsing Internet content. The idea is that the video strip gives you the feeling that you’re still attached to a TV show even when you’re looking down at your mobile device. It sounds a little ridiculous, but it works. And, if you want, you can drag the strip down to see the full-screen video. Continue Reading…

Alticast HDMI Media Express Stick with Cox guide and apps

HDMI streaming sticks are everywhere now, but a new one powered by Alticast, and shown for the first time at CES, comes with an interesting twist. The HDMI Media Express Stick includes both the Reference Design Kit (RDK) software bundle developed by Comcast (and now jointly managed with Time Warner), and Android support. That means it can be used as a set-top alternative by cable companies while also including access to Android apps.

Alticast CTO John Carlucci ran through a demo that showed multiple cable UIs running on the streaming stick. One was Korean (Alticast is headquartered in Korea), but one was the Cox Trio guide. Continue Reading…

Going to ShowStoppers at CES is a bit like attending a carnival. The press event has gadget makers hawking their wares alongside display after display of brightly colored signage and geeky gear. It’s always tough to pick out the useful demos from the ones that only attract your eye because they’re shiny (more on that in a different post), but I did find two gadget accessories that are now on my must-have list.

Anker Astro 2

First up is the new Anker Astro external battery. I got an earlier version of the product for Christmas 2012, and it sustained me through my CES travels of last year. Since then, however, Anker has seriously stepped up its game on the style front. While I adore my original Anker for its functionality, the new models are smooth, soft, and much smaller in the hand. And even the smallest model still holds enough charging capacity to power up an iPhone three times over. I’m definitely upgrading soon. Continue Reading…

Intel 3D camera

Call me a Sci-Fi nut, but I’m a sucker for stories about human/brain interfaces, virtual reality, and the coming Singularity. And Intel’s press conference hit every one of those trigger points at CES this afternoon. Senior VP Mooly Eden described blended devices where brain and machine are physically linked together and said he believes it’s a matter of “when” not “if” that vision becomes a reality.

Eden also alluded to Kurzweil’s Singularity theory that computers will surpass human intelligence in the coming decades. According to Eden’s calculations, silicon will have more transistors than the brain has neurons in only a dozen more years.

While the presentation was heavily aspirational, however, Eden also offered several concrete developments from Intel for the pragmatists in the audience. Continue Reading…

ActiveVideo AmEx ad

TV service providers have had a monopoly on the consumer television experience for years, but the CE guys finally have a chance to get in on the game. From LG’s launch of WebOS TVs to the incorporation of the Roku platform in TCL and Hisense sets, CES is full of news about how the TV companies are banking on delivering better software to differentiate themselves.

As Dave alluded to, however, it’s hard to imagine that consumers are going to pay too much attention to software when they buy a TV. Worse, the messy ecosystem means it will take longer for any useful new applications and features to gain traction. How are content companies and developers going to deal with creating TV apps for a thousand different connected TVs, set-tops, and streaming sticks?

The one interesting solution out there right now is ActiveVideo’s CloudTV distribution platform. Continue Reading…

It was many years ago at CES that Dave and I both found ourselves enthralled by HP’s coffee-table-sized touchscreen on display at one of the many press events. There’s something visceral about the feeling of moving and shifting digital objects on a table, and it’s very different from the feeling you get when manipulating a tablet. With a tablet, the movements are mostly in your thumbs and index fingers. With a digital table, your gestures are broad and sweeping.

Of course, where HP (and Microsoft, and others) failed with its touchable table, Apple has soared to unimaginable success with the iPad and its successors. ln fact, we’ve been so caught up in the tablet market that little effort’s been expended on bringing touch-control to larger screens. (Motion-controlled TV interfaces are a different matter entirely.) The one big exception I know of is the Lenovo Horizon Multimode Table PC. Lenovo showed off its Horizon product at CES 2013, but given how little I’ve heard about it since then, I was shocked to discover the Table PC is actually available for sale. You can make it your own for only $979.

Now into the void steps Westinghouse. With a slight twist on the tabletop idea, Westinghouse is introducing a new interactive whiteboard for CES 2014. It’s a large tablet turned on its side, and it comes in 55″, 65″, 70″ and 84″ screen-size varieties. (The 84″ version supports 4K video.) According to the YouTube demo, the new product operates like a standard tablet running Window 8, but it includes a whiteboard mode with text recognition, annotative capabilities that work even on video, and a six-point IR touch system. Continue Reading…

LyveMinds

GigaOM’s Janko Roettgers has been dogged about trying to discover the raison d’etre behind stealth start-up Black Pearl Systems, and now, six months after first revealing the company’s existence, Roettgers is finally able to give us details on what exactly the company aims to do. Black Pearl has launched its new consumer brand name, Lyve Minds, and plans to introduce a product called LyveHome next spring that lets users share and back up their personal media across a variety of devices and apps.

The big deal with Black Pearl, er Lyve Minds, is the management team behind it. The CEO and co-founder Tim Bucher used to be head of engineering for Apple, and the rest of his team brings in experience from companies including Netflix, Danger, YouTube, Microsoft, TiVo, Roku, and Amazon. Interestingly, I discovered separately that co-founder and Content CTO Scott Smyers left the company in October, and has now moved on to a VP role at the audio company DTS. It seems odd that one of the co-founders would abandon the pirate ship before launch. Perhaps a management disagreement? Or maybe something far less interesting, like logistics or start-up fatigue.

In the meantime, here’s what we know about the LyveHome product: Continue Reading…